FairPrice loses 200 trolleys every month
Thu, Feb 11, 2010
my paper

By Pamela Chow

HERE'S a shocking statistic: On average, 200 trolleys from Fair- Price stores islandwide go missing every month.

And trolley caretakers like Mr Ang Yong An from FairPrice Xtra at AMK Hub must comb nearby carparks, void decks and parks, often retrieving as many as 20 trolleys a day. Mr Ang said that locating and returning just one trolley can take as long as half an hour.

The number of trolleys that go missing worsens during festive seasons. Last year, almost 300 trolleys were lost during the Chinese New Year period alone.

This is because more people shop for bulky items - such as cartons of drinks - and then use the trolleys to wheel their purchases out of supermarkets.

With each trolley costing between $130 and $150, and each trolley lock costing $30 to replace, FairPrice was set back by $150,000 last year, thanks to missing trolleys.

The problem has prompted a reinforcement of the supermarket giant's Please Return Trolley campaign, launched in May last year, with notices and in-store announcements.

However, many are still not deterred from abandoning trolleys, said Mr Winston Ng, assistant manager of corporate communications at FairPrice.

Trolleys can even turn up in the strangest places - one from the AMK Hub branch was discovered at Bishan Park.

USED AND ABUSED: Reader Cherry on Tuesday sent to citizen-journalism website Stomp a photo of two supermarket trolleys which were attached together and abandoned at an HDB void deck in Jurong West.

When Mr Ang spots shoppers wheeling trolleys out of AMK Hub during his rounds, he tries to stop them, he said.

But many turn a deaf ear.

"Some even tell me off fiercely," the 43-year-old told my paper in Mandarin.

As part of this year's campaign, Fair- Price commissioned a survey to find out more about shoppers' habits and reactions, said Mr Seah Kian Peng, managing director of FairPrice. The supermarket has also partnered the Singapore Kindness Movement.

The survey of 300 shoppers, conducted from Jan 7 to 17 - and which included 56 people who confessed to not returning trolleys - revealed that the top two reasons for shoppers not returning trolleys were due to "shopping bags (being) too heavy", and shoppers being "lazy".

The latter was an unprompted response.

Mr Seah said that FairPrice is planning to "put up more posters in all (Fair- Price) stores, community centres and town-council offices", to reach out to more customers.

FairPrice is also seeking help from schools to "focus on public education, so that, hopefully, over time, (returning trolleys) will become a societal norm".


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